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Winston Yu: I think we'll go ahead anyway. After all, it's taken meticulous planning and I'd like to make my mark on the world
Alex Rider: But you'll kill thousands - for no reason
Winston Yu: What reason can you give me to spare them? World chaos does have its uses, Alex

Alex Rider and Yu

Major Winston Yu is the main antagonist in the seventh Alex Rider novel, Snakehead.


Major Yu is one of the twelve founding executives of the criminal organization SCORPIA, and he has a great love of Britain (his mother actually named him after Winston Churchill). He is an extremely cold and ruthless killer, and he does not take failure well. Some of his employees, such as Bill Tanner, prefer to commit suicide rather than suffer Yu's ghastly punishments.

However, Yu also prefers to display a degree of class, sportsmanship and tact when dealing with his enemies. He has a great respect for Alex Rider due to him being English, and he wants to get rid of the boy with a flourish.

He likes England very much, almost everything he uses was made in Britain (he drink English juice and wine, eat English beef, pie and cheese, also wearing English made clothes).

He is also very narcissistic, naming his scam snakehead company after himself and making it into an anagram.


He is described as being extremely delicate and fragile. His overall appearance is Chinese, yet he has a head of hair which has gone white, which is remarked upon as being unusual for a Chinese man. His favourite colour seems to be white, as he is often seen in a white suit. He uses a walking stick, and he also wears gray gloves to protect his fragile hands.

Early life

Winston Yu was born in complete poverty in Hong Kong and he was the son of an English businessman. His mother (which worked as a chambermaid at Hilton hotel) met his father there , and she fell hopelessly in love with him. But then Winston was born, his father found out about him and ran off to England, leaving the woman with her son. Yu's mother was given the task of raising a single infant with the salary of only several pounds cleaning rooms in Hilton hotel. In the end, when Yu is only 6 years old, she decided to go to the main Snakehead in Hong Kong, and later became an paid assassin (And that's how she supported Winston with his school fees). She killed at least 16 people in her career in order to give her son a better life.

He discovered other side of his mother after a bully named Crispin Odey was murdered by the snakehead after giving him a very hard time at school, according to Winston himself he was horrified at the truth of his mother being a murderer.

Army and diagnosis

After graduating from Harrods, He went to London University where he studied politics before joining the army.He received a medal from the queen which made his mother died of a heart attack, due to shock and gratitude. Winston Yu had his mother's ashes scattered in Buckingham Palace by bribing a guard, and, from that point on, he became every which way English.

Yu served with distinction in the Falklands and he participated in the first gulf war, and he soon discovered his interest in killing people (especially foreigners). He rosed to Major before he was diagnosed with Osteoporosis (also known as the Brittle bone disease), where he was forced to leave active service.

MI6 and Snakehead

Winston joined MI6 after leaving the army, and was given a desk job at the communications center at Cheltenham. He was very disappointed in his job, since he imagined him being the young James Bond. Soon, he started to steal classified information and handing them to the Snakehead where his mother worked in. He later left MI6 because the snakehead was paying him a fortune, also because his Osteoporosis was getting worse and worse. After that his organisation rose up the ladder very quickly until it became the second biggest criminal organisation in southeast Asia (and according to him the biggest one drowned instead of falling off a roof). He soon created Scorpia in Paris along with few other people who had the idea.

"Reef encounter" and death

When the 2006 G8 Summit took place, he had to stop an alternate summit being taken place in the Pacific, called "Reef encounter", and it was various celebrities who wanted to end poverty.

Winston Yu hated this, and so did Scorpia, and a plan laid out: Stealing a powerful bomb named "Royal Blue" and detonate it under reef island, causing the plates under the island to rise, therefore creating massive tsunami. The tsunami will destroy Reef Island and Western Australia and killing everyone who had gathered for the summit, along with about 10-20 thousand people. Everything will seem like a natural disaster, nobody will even doubt.

Winston Yu had his men stealing "Royal blue" from an MI6 building outside London and take it down to Darwin via Bangkok and Jakarta (his snakehead gang were based in Thailand). But Alex Rider discovered "Royal blue" on a ship to Jakarta when he's on a mission to stop people smuggling (He was also on the ship named"Liberian star" with the "Royal blue"). After escaping from the container, he found out that he's actually capable of accessing the bomb and maybe even disabling it. After damaging the ship and escaping from it, he was soon recaptured by Winston Yu.

After Winston Yu captured Alex, Winston wanted his organs removed to pay his damage on "Liberian star" and the "invisible sword" that failed because of him. Alex was sent to a plastic snakehead surgeon named Dr. Tanner in the Australian jungle, but Alex soon destroyed the base and escaped. Using his watch with a tracker inside (and the battery from the tracking device on the heel of his sneaker), ASIS eventually find him and picked him up.

Soon, he met up with Winston Yu again in his oil rig along with the SAS who parachuted from a plane to kill Yu and disarm the bomb. The SAS attacked when Winston Yu was going to kill Alex and blew the oil rig up, causing Yu's arm to shatter. As he attempted to escape, his legs gave way as well, but he survived and fled in a speedboat. Alex Rider prematurely detonated Royal Blue. Upon the destruction of the bomb, which harmlessly explodes deep underwater, the shock of the explosion shatters his bones due to his Osteoporosis and he died instantly.


Yu was cold, sly and he hated failures. Being on the executive board of Scorpia, he was callous, ruthless, arrogant and sociopathic. He was also vengeful, shown in his encounter with Alex Rider. He displayed traits like being sadistic and emotionally detached, shown when he tried to sell Alex's organ (including blood) and almost qualmlessly commented making money out of the latter's corpse.

Yu was vain, naming Unwin Toys after himself, it being an anagram of Winston Yu. He was very self-centred and wanted to make his stand in the pages of history. He claims to be one of the few people on the executive board of Scorpia to vote against Invisible Sword and, a second time, against sending a marksman to murder Alex Rider. This may or may not have been simply a psychological effect, but it shows that Major Yu has some degree of emotion.


  • Yu owns a company called Unwin Toys, which happens to be an anagram of 'Winston Yu'.
  • He is a contrast to Herod Sayle, who harboured a deep hatred for England and wanted to exact revenge against the country. Both characters were also bullied rather badly during their races.
  • He was named after Winston Churchill.
  • He hates failure, and usually issues death threats to people if they do not succeed with his tasks.
  • It is commented that he speaks perfect English like an old-fashioned news broadcaster.


  • Photo: none
  • General information: various sources, including but not limited to:

Snakehead Characters
Main Characters
Alex RiderTulip JonesJack StarbrightEthan BrookeAshMajor Winston Yu
Other Key Characters
SmithersBen DanielsSabina PleasureBill TannerAnan SukitHermann De WynterMarc Damon